The pandemic trend in Canada of re-electing the governing party with a strong mandate continues in Saskatchewan, following elections in New Brunswick and British Columbia.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe won his first general election as leader of the Saskatchewan Party, following former popular Premier and party leader Brad Wall’s resignation in August of 2017. Premier Moe’s party maintains its strong majority by winning 48 of 61 seats in the legislature (subject to change as final mail-in ballots will be counted Nov 7) putting the Saskatchewan party back as the governing party for a fourth consecutive term.
As Premier Moe and his re-elected government get to work on setting their policy agenda and implementing key campaign promises, there are three key factors to keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months:
1. Low COVID-19 Cases Give Saskatchewan an Advantage
With public health measures in place, the campaign was quite subdued with popular events like rallies and mass door-to-door campaigning taking a backseat to car rallies and political swag consisting of cloth masks.
In the last couple of months, many provinces in Canada have faced significant increases in COVID-19.
Saskatchewan, however, saw relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases throughout the campaign compared to their neighbours, Alberta and Manitoba, which are experiencing a spike in cases. Look for Premier Moe to take measures to keep COVID-19 numbers low, in order for the province to re-open and restore its full economy as much as possible.
As many provinces try to manage COVID-19 case numbers and the economic impacts, Saskatchewan’s management of the pandemic has given the province an advantage to begin to focus on economic recovery and growth ahead of other provinces
2. Core Industries to be Focus of Economic Recovery
The Saskatchewan Party’s ballot question in this campaign was simple: Which party is best able to lead the province’s post-pandemic economic recovery? At the first post-election opportunity, the Premier mentioned his economic plan is to focus on Saskatchewan’s core industries: agriculture, mining, potash, oil and gas. Also keep an eye out for quick action on policy measures that reinforce Premier Moe’s campaign theme of making life more affordable for everyone.
3. Few Changes Anticipated for Cabinet
Every cabinet minister that ran in this campaign was re-elected, with one notable exception. Former Minister Beaudry-Mellor was unseated once the mail-in ballots were counted. With such a dominant victory, Premier Moe will most likely make a few changes to his Cabinet. Premier Moe has already indicated he will take the time to meet with his caucus over the coming days in advance of announcing his new front bench.
One of the new faces on the Opposition benches and rising star is Aleana Young who on Sunday, the day before the election, gave birth to a baby girl and on Monday anticipated losing her Riding by less than 200 votes. That all changed for Young on Thursday when she was declared the winner after mail-in ballots were counted.
And finally, the newly launched Buffalo Party, formed in large part due to the feelings of Western alienation, came in third place province-wide with 2.63% of the overall vote, beating out the Green Party. Did the Buffalo Party cost the Saskatchewan Party any closely contested seats? We’ll only know definitively once all the mail-in ballots are counted.
For advice on engaging with the Saskatchewan government, please reach out to the Western Canada team at Counsel Public Affairs:
Partner and VP Western Canada
Director, Western Canada
Consultant, Western Canada